Thursday, February 20, 2003

Sycamore teachers, school board agree on new contract

The Cincinnati Enquirer

SYCAMORE TWP. - Teachers and the board of education reached tentative agreement Wednesday on a new contract.

Teachers and board members have been negotiating nearly a year - since last March. Teachers have been working without a contract since the last one expired July 31.

"I'm delighted to be able to get to this point and allow the district to get back to what we do best, taking care of kids," Sycamore Community Schools Board president Charles Wilfong said. "We've negotiated a good contract, one we can be proud of."

Susan Sauer, president of the Sycamore Education Association (SEA), said the teachers' team "is pleased to have a tentative contract agreement."

She said particulars will be released to the SEA membership this morning.

If ratified by teachers and formally accepted by the board, the tentative three-year agreement will be retroactive to the beginning of this school year.

Wilfong, while not revealing details, said outstanding issues that were resolved were related to compensation and language over insurance coverage.

He said he hopes teachers can ratify the proposed contract and the board can take final action before the end of this month so some provisions can kick in by April 1.

"We've never had one go on as long as this one," he said. "We're glad to get an agreement."

Earlier this month, SEA rejected a school board proposal that was described by the board as its "final offer."

But that changed Wednesday as negotiating teams for each side talked in the afternoon and continued into the evening, even as the board held its regular meeting.

The SEA took an "intent to strike" vote in November, but a strike was never called. There has never been a teacher strike in the district.

Sycamore's 500 teachers are the highest-paid in Hamilton County - average salary is $56,710 - in a district that scores perfect on the state report card year after year and produces double-digit numbers of National Merit semifinalists.

Sycamore has about 6,000 students from the Blue Ash, Montgomery and Symmes Township areas.

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